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New post: preparing for Scottish Independence from England

by on 2020/08/24

I am very happy indeed to be a part of the FB discussion on preparing for Scottish Independence, and thank friends for suggesting it. Such a discussion forum connects with my view that we must prepare serious and well considered positions on as many of the questions, fears or hopes that people have for the future of Scotland as soon as possible, and certainly before the next referendum. We do not wish to be deluged by fake news and misleading propaganda, whatever the source!


On 15 January this year, I wrote to Mike Small, Editor of the Bella Caledonia website. I do not believe my letter was published, but I wanted to start this contribution by highlighting some extracts from that letter. In it I stated that “despite the wholly anticipated – and also negative – response of Boris Johnson to our First Minister’s  claim for a Section 30 Order,  I believe we must proceed as if we had the right to declare independence from the Union of Crowns and Parliaments, given majority support for that course of action within Scotland.  Whatever else this requires, and this is disputed territory, we know that it will require both support from other nations beyond the UK ,and a constitution. We also know that at some point in the possibly not too distant future, a political and constitutional crisis will arise in the UK, and that such an event will provide an opportunity for Scotland to act decisively to declare or seek its freedom.


Let us then get down to the business of preparing a Scottish Constitution, and establishing our national allies in the quest for freedom in the face of colonial rule.


In the inter-regnum between rule by the monarchy of Denmark and the limited rule by the monarchy of Sweden, following Denmark-Norway’s defeat in the Napoleonic Wars, the Norwegians held a constitutional assembly in 1814 that agreed a progressive national constitution. They neither sought nor obtained permission from either Denmark or Norway to do this. The resulting constitution was largely put in place, even after the Swedish monarchy was formerly ‘given’ Norway shortly afterwards. And that Constitution had a decisive effect on the subsequent economic, political and social development of the country.


Scotland, then, must immediately revive the Constitutional Convention that had such a  decisive influence on Devolution in 1999. Membership of this Convention spanned the different relevant political parties, religious and civil society organisations including Trade Unions. The remit would be to draft a new constitution for an independent Scotland.

Such an initiative would hopefully build a consensus on some key issues across interests and political parties, and engage people in a crucial debate about what Scotland’s future political system should look like, what checks and balances between the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government should be put in place, what the division of power should be between the central and local state, and the branches of government, what the fundamental rights of citizens, residents and others (e.g. Children, refugees) should be, how  minorities would be protected. The Constitution would also set out the purposes of a free Scotland in the world, the processes needed for the amendment of the constitution, and other important matters.


Importantly, the process would engage with people and their organisations and parties in a way that Brexit has not, and would raise awareness – and interest – in the many issues involved. In other words prepare for the day ….Carpe diem! The time will come, and nobody can predict exactly when!»


So, I wholly agree with those who are asking for a Constitution, and think that we should be working seriously on this right now. The issue of one or two chambers in a future Scottish parliament has also been raised in this forum. In my view, second chambers serve to weaken democracy, not strengthen it. This is why the Nordic countries got rid of their second chambers a rather long time ago. Like the House of Lords, they were dominated by the landed aristocracy, and deeply conservative.  Major concern in the a Scottish context is always the voice of  the people not living in the central belt, ie local representation. The answer to this, as has already been suggested here, is to strengthen local government, reform its powers and financing.  We must also work toward a modern multi-party system, which the mechanisms for building consensus on key political issues. Again, the Nordic countries provide some useful pointers to what works well.


The issue of the monarchy has also been raised in this forum, as it must be. Scotland has to choose. Personally, I do not like political presidents, as in Russia or the USA. I prefer the more interesting presidents of Ireland and Iceland, who are thoughtful, well considered, and not elected first and foremost for their politics. But I also like some monarchs, for example Queen Margarethe of Denmark, probably the greatest and most popular monarch in Europe today.  The choice of Monarch vs President is not always so clear. But if Scotland chooses to be a monarchy, then it must not simply choose – by default or otherwise – the reigning monarch of England. Rather it must choose its own monarch who will live in Scotland, and promote Scottish values and interests. An example is provided by Norway, which chose its own monarch after declaring unilateral independence from Swedish monarchy in 1905. Norway chose Prince Carl of Denmark to be their new king, and he both accepted and moved to Norway, changing his name to King Haakon VII. He was married to Princess Maud, daughter of Edward VII. His grandson is the present king.


The future currency of Scotland is also a matter to be very seriously considered and discussed. Here, I agree with those who argue that Scotland must have its own currency. Equally, we must consider how to ensure it has market confidence and avoid speculative attacks, especially in the early years. We should again take courage and lessons from the small and highly successful small neighbouring Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, who have their own currencies and are not members of the Euro, although Denmark, and to a lesser extent Norway, have tied their currency within bands to the Euro. Especially in the early years, we will need to tie any Scottish currency to a stronger currency. But we can and should choose which currency that should be. Perhaps Sterling, perhaps the Euro, but less probably the US $, the Norwegian Kroner, or the Danish Kroner. I do not, however, believe that a Scottish currency should be internationally traded in the early years, perhaps ever, because this is asking for speculative attacks. Another option, consistent with the way global money is changing, would be to have a deliberate multicurrency system, with Sterling and the Euro used as legal tender along with the Scottish currency, although all government domestic payments would probably be made in Scottish currency. There are options out there, and the SNP has so far been too conservative.


The border is the final issue raised in this forum that I would like to address. I refer to the border with England. Let us be in no doubt that this has become a problem because of English Brexit, and not because of Scottish independence. Norway and Sweden are totally independent from each other in the constitutional sense, but one hardly notices the border between them at all even though Norway is not an EU member. One does not normally show a passport, or even for the most part, stop the car or bike when passing back and forwards. Yes, there is a customs border for goods passing through, but it is an easy and light process. Whether this can be the case with England depends entirely on what England decides – will it have a hard Brexit, will it be in the EEA, and so on. We in Scotland seem to have no control over that process whatsoever.  With goodwill on both sides, it should be possible to create a kind of british “Schengen” to allow people to move freely across borders  between England and Scotland (as in the Nordics), even if a customs border is needed.


Apologies for taking so much space, and hope this helps to forward the discussion.


From → Rural policy

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